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Stories from the valley

Be a Hero – bring Wine that People want to drink!

Contributed by Tim Johnson

In ten minutes, you can be a hero during the holiday party season. Or you can wait to the last minute and bring a cloying, over oaked chardonnay or a barely drinkable cab. Be a hero and bring wine people will want to drink!

The first step is to purposely avoid the chilled wine selections. This is like bringing a Whitman’s sampler to your Valentine’s Day sweetie. Not going to cut it. Instead go to the local section of the wine isle. Here you will find high quality wines with a story.

Next, look for wines that are NOT cabernet sauvignon. In all honestly, unless you are plunking down $40 plus for a Napa or Sonoma cab AND you know what you are doing, you’re gonna fail.

Instead look for these wines from the Sierra Foothills:


Hands down my go to wine for the holidays. A great, rich wine with low tannins (the component in wine that makes it astringent) and good acid that will work with anything. I love it with appetizers. It goes with turkey and excels with anything pork or beef. There are many above average winemakers in El Dorado County and Amador County that put up some remarkable barberas.

Cabernet Franc

Full bodied and lighter tannins with good acid make this wine a hit with appetizers, cheese and grilled meats. Great with your turkey dinner! A number of wineries bottle this varietal

Riesling (dry)

One of my favorite whites to bring to an appetizer party. Floral with nice acid to stand up to rich foods, this wine is particularly noteworthy when it is made in the dryer styles. Madrona makes a wonderful dry Riesling. If you can’t find it, many other wineries putting up this varietal put an indicator of levels of dryness on the back panel of the bottle.

Chardonnay (unoaked)

Ok, so you have to bring a chardonnay. No problem. Take a minute and find one that is unoaked. The fruit is brighter and the wine crisp. Best of all you miss all of the heavy buttery, vanilla flavors that are for kids.

Finally, buy 4 bottles. You’ll be set for the season and you won’t have to hang your head in thin–cab shame at the next dinner party!